Progressive Voices of Faith

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This page provides arguments and ideas for mobilising alongside, or as part of progressive communities of faith, for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, as well as links to further resources. It is destined to be updated in the coming days and weeks: please send your comments to Nevin Öztop at contact@dayagainsthomophobia.org

Arguments for Action

It is relatively new that faith and religions have come to be used in the same sentences as human rights, and sexual and gender diversity. These connections do, however, constitute crucial human rights issues, if we are to live as ‘complete’ human beings – both in terms of gender and sexual diversity, and in terms of spiritual fulfillment and freedoms of expression.
In many cases, particularly with mainstream and more traditional forms of religious practice, religious communities and practices have very often been dominated, as well as polarized, by forces from the conservative right. This polarization has been beneficial only for the purpose of isolating and constraining a field of human experience – which really comprises various expressions – and saving it for a single block of conservative voice.
These voices have been active inside our homes, in our local politics, in national political debates and in global negotiations, often leaving little or no room for human rights based decisions.
Homophobia, transphobia and sexism have in fact often been promoted as core values, where conservative religious voices are given free reign, sometimes forming even a backbone of social and religious belief – in the name of ‘public order’ and ‘traditional morality’, for example – which ultimately perpetuates long-standing ideas of LGBT people as sinful, sick or criminal.
At the same time, progressive voices of faith among religious groups have often been pushed aside and de-legitimised, as well as blamed, for not taking the right stances, or for not being on the right track. Some have even been accused of betrayal or complicity with evil.
LGBT members of faith groups have faced particular forms of discrimination; rejected on the one hand by many LGBT communities, as well as by their own faith communities. LGBT communities often have been, and still are, subject to stigmatization, and disowning by local communities, homes or religious leaders, as well as attacks, insults, blackmailing and violence. Amidst all of this, they have very often been stripped of their rights to express and to fulfil who they are, as complete and social human beings. LGBT people too have the right to faith!
We are refusing to feel ashamed!
Social pressure – emphasising the need for certain ‘treatments’, statements and behaviors – from family members, community or religious leaders, and friends often seed internal homophobia and transphobia in us. This is one of the most hurtful yet effective ways of disarming the person, and also LGBT communities as a whole.
Having community leaders speak up!
Religious voices often justify violence against, and criminalization of, LGBT people through reference to religions. Of course these voices are not the majority, but they are mostly the loudest, which in the end draws false conclusions that all religious voices are in question.
Not only religious groups linked to the state, but also religious community leaders, and the faithful everywhere, have a say in the inclusivity of religions. In this sense, community leaders and people of faith everywhere, who may never become visible activists at the frontline of the LGBT movement, can also be valuable partners in condemning attacks committed in the name of religions or morality, or in ‘cleansing’ the nation from ‘marginal’ voices.

Ideas for Action:

Join the Global Inter-faith Prayer Initiative on May 17, 2014!
Now in its 8th year, you can find out all about the Initiative here.
Promote dialogue!
Consider promoting a dialogue between different faith communities, with other religious denominations, to create platforms for information exchange and collective action.
“What would God say?”!
We often hear people arguing that God would do cruel things to LGBT people: God would burn them. God would hate them. God would punish them… People re-package their hateful words as the words of God or Gods.
You could consider writing a piece or creating a short video, filming what you think God would do, or more importantly what God would NOT do. Show how the God or Gods you believe in say something other than hateful words.
If you would more information about how to mobilise together with progressive voices of faith email us at contact@dayagainsthomophobia.org

Further resources:

  • CALEM – Confederation of Associations LGBTQI Europeans and Muslims: www.calem.eu
  • Article by CALEM on “Self Sustainable Mosque, Refugees Shelter and Muslim İmam-Es Training Center”,here.
  • European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups:
    www.euroforumlgbtchristians.eu
  • Global Interfaith Network on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (GIN-SOGI), here.
  • Jerusalem Open House, here.

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